Thursday, 11 January 2007 14:37

Network helps consumers find collision repair shops online

Written by Karyn Hendricks
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By Karyn Hendricks

Who hasn't wished they could turn back time after a traumatic event. If one could only take a quantum leap backward and change the course of events. {mosimage}This is probably what was running through the mind of Tammy Wexler, Los Angeles resident, as she backed out of a parking space and into the center of three low posts damaging the right front quadrant, front bumper and quarter panel of her 2001Acura MDX.

Unable to turn back time, however, Wexler began investigating options for repairing her vehicle. Since she estimated repairs to be around $1,500, she decided not to report the accident to her insurance company for fear of having her rates go up. An internet search then lead her to DingIT, a free independent online service that saves time and money for car owners who need autobody work by allowing them to receive preliminary estimates from qualified body shops over the Internet.

Active ImageThe DingIT process is very simple. A customer goes to http://dingit.com, where one provides car information, selects a locale, and uploads some pictures of the damage to the car.

Auto body shops that are part of the DingIT network receive the specifications and prepare an estimate for repair, which is then e-mailed to the customer. After notification, the customers can log on and evaluate the offers. Along with each estimate comes an online credential report for each body shop responding, as well as grades and comments from previous customers who used that shop .

{mosimage}Within just a few hours, Wexler had received four estimates. She eliminated the high and low estimates and called to inquire about the other two. She picked Euro Design Auto Craft in nearby Santa Monica. The owner, Henry Mardakhanian, came across as knowledgeable and was prepared to work on the car immediately at a reasonable price. The repairs were completed within the time frame agreed upon, according to Wexler. "The body work was excellent and the color matching perfect."

The body shop side

Mardakhanian compared the DingIT program to a DRP relationship. The 12 percent commission paid to DingIT on Active Imagecompleted jobs is comparable to discounts offered in other contractual arrangements. There is considerably less hassle, however, as the entire process is handled electronically. Furthermore, the shop is paid immediately, so there is no time spent chasing down payment.

"The company is still in its growing phase," explained Mardakhanian, "but it is another viable choice for shops to compete for the customer."

What's in it for the body shop

DingIT offers another venue for shop owners to develop business, which includes free leads every week. The company is growing in southern California and more car owners are using DingIT to find a body shop. DingIT only sends leads in the area of the facility. Owners can use any estimating system or can type estimates directly into DingIT. Estimates are sent over the Internet. The estimate is not binding. It can be modified when the car has been examined by the collision repair shop.

The program is very flexible. A shop can send estimates anywhere at anytime. And becoming part of DingIT is free. There is no membership fee and a commission is paid only if an assignment is accepted.

To find out more about joining DingIT, visit www.dingit.com and click on "new body shop."

More benefits to customer

As an extra bonus, DingIT offers the customer a five percent rebate on the cost of the rental car. Speaking about her experience, Wexler admitted that she was a bit skeptical about the rebate. "When I closed the case, like magic, I got a check in the mail. This service is so convenient and made my life much easier."

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